46 flu deaths so far in South Carolina

SOUTH CAROLINA (WTOC) - A Lowcountry man died from the flu at Hilton Head Hospital last week, making this the first confirmed flu death at the hospital.

So far, 46 people have died from flu complications in the state of South Carolina, according to the Department of Health. Doctors say it only takes a matter of days for someone to be hospitalized from the flu. One of our big questions is 'how does it turn deadly so fast?'

The death comes as widespread flu activity continues across the country. Doctors tell us ongoing medical conditions combined with the flu bring about the threat of death. Officials at Hilton Head Hospital say the number one thing you must do at whatever stage of the flu or flu-like symptoms you are in is see a doctor.

Here are some South Carolina flu numbers: For the fifth straight week, South Carolina is reported widespread flu activity. This is the highest stage of contamination. As of last week, there were 24 deaths. All South Carolina deaths, according to the CDC, have been in individuals 18 and older.

"I don't want the public to panic. I think if they seek medical attention and they're treated, there are chances you'll do well, but unfortunately, with influenza, it can cause death. It happens every year," said Dr. Rafael Sanchez, Hilton Head Hospital.

Experts at this hospital say they don't believe we've even peaked with flu season.

"Because it's showing how rapidly it's spreading and how contagious this is, and people really need to be mindful of ways to prevent this," said Janet Briggs, Infection Prevention Nurse. "The CDC is saying the two big ways are to wash your hands and get your flu vaccine."

Daycares in the Lowcountry are still taking precautions to keep their little ones safe.

"Every little bit of protection you can get when you're dealing with little ones, we need to do," said Kimberly Duke-Clark, Owner of Lowcountry Day School. "I feel like it's helped out this season, especially."

Even with their extra efforts, out of their 400 students, Duke-Clark says they've had about 40 children with the flu this season.

"Well, it could be this - 'we'll just give a little bit of Tylenol, you'll be fine.' Don't go down that road. Take it very seriously. You can die from this," she said.

Doctors say it's not too late to get your flu shot.

"We recommend that everyone should be vaccinated because even if you get the flu, it can decrease the severity of the illness. It can prevent hospitalization and it can certainly prevent death," Dr. Sanchez said.

What you'll continue to hear through the winter months is to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to limit the amount of germs you're spreading.

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